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The War Room With Jennifer Granholm

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California 16, Us 9, Jennifer 6, Michigan 6, Hollywood 4, Charlie Pierce 3, Donnie Fowler 3, Nra 3, Boehner 3, John Boehner 3, Bill Lockyer 3, New York 3, Rubio 2, Johnson 2, Feinstein 2, Romney 2, Snyder 2, Dan 2, Obama 2, Brad Pitt 2,
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  Current    The War Room With Jennifer Granholm    News/Business.   
   (2012) New. (CC) (Stereo)  

    December 18, 2012
    2:00 - 3:00pm PST  

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granholm. tonight in "the war room," two tests of leadership, of resolve of morality. one on guns, the other on the fiscal cliff. who will swim with the current and who will stand like a rock against the tide? fourr of the
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world's -- the nation's worst tragedies. school tragedies on record. do you know where your pension money is? for some teachers, the answer is very troubling. california public school teachers who lost six of their own in the newtown shooting, they are actually invested in the private equity firm that owns some of the world's biggest gun manufacturers. as we reported after the aurora shooting this past spring, cerberus kappel owns the freedom group, the world's largest firearm distributor. the freedom group produces over half of all semi-automatic rifles sold every year including the one that was used in the newtown massacre. the california teacher a pension fund has about $751 million
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invested in the company that is responsible for that, cerberus. late yesterday a spokesman for the fund told the sacramento beat that the pension fund was considering pulling its investment out of cerberus, saying "events that occurred in connecticut are a wakeup call to re-examine our investments." the california teacher's pension fund has a lot of money for those investments. $155 billion overall to be exact. remember $751 million of that is with cerberus. so facing that kind of clout cerberus announced at 1:00 a.m. this morning that it would sell freedom group and it would return the proceeds to investors. the company said -- cerberus said "it is apparent that the sandy hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented
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level. as a firm, we are investors not statesmen or policymakers. our role is to make investments on behalf of our clients who are comprised of the pension plans of firemen teachers, policemen and other municipal workers and unions and endowments and other institutions and individuals." it seems like money talks afterall. at least in the world of private equity. now california state treasurer bill lockyer has asked the states' two largest pension funds, the teacher's pension fund and the california public employees retirement system which is the biggest pension fund in the entire country he's asked them to purge their portfolios of gun manufacturers if their products are illegal in california. for the latest on the story, i'm so pleased to be able to welcome inside "the war room," california state treasurer bill lockyer joining us by telephone from hayward california.
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bill, thank you for being here. hello again after many years. >> jennifer: for our viewers we served together as attorneys general and bill has served in many public positions. now as treasurer he's responsible for a very big portfolio and so how much money bill are we talking about with both of these funds? >> well, altogether, we're talking about $400 billion. but this particular investment that we're talking about was a little over $8 million. so that is the cerberus share of calstrs in this company was modest. it is still an important principle. we're all sort of struggling to try to figure out what's the right policy response. we all are having the emotional responses and the rage. but we gotta figure out what works to try to do our best to avoid these things in the
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future. we know they're never going to be eliminated entirely but we can do a lot better. this is one piece of that. if these weapons and -- by the way, in california, we have a long list of these. it just isn't assault weapons. we also ban what are called saturday night specials which you'll remember from detroit and other places, that are kind of cheap handguns that are gang used a lot. those are banned in california. so to the extent that anyone makes those, we're not going to be making investments either. >> jennifer: so who decides bill where, for example the teacher's pension fund is invested. is it you? is it the board of the pension? how does that decision get made? >> i'm a member of the board. >> jennifer: i see. >> so the board mostly sets asset allocation policies. it is very -- 10,000 feet high,
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big swaths of money. the day-to-day investing deciding okay, we want to do cerberus or whatever is the professional staff. and they will, depending on the size of the investment, check in with the board members at a meeting about what they're contemplating. mostly they have a lot of professional discretion to make those decisions. >> jennifer: now you said that it was $8 million but the public reports were that it was a much bigger number. $750 million. >> you know, this fund invests in everything from ag and auto to hundreds of things. so the little piece of it that is the gun manufacturer is a small piece of their business and even a smaller piece of calstrs business. >> jennifer: in light of statement that -- >> general motors and general
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electric and you name it. through cerberus. and they've done well by the pension funds. i don't know that anyone really thought about what is this particular piece of their book and whether it was appropriate thing or not. my guess is, i don't know. but my guess is no one really kind of thought about it. we have policies in california. we don't invest in tobacco. early disinvestment from south africa. >> jennifer: do you think it is having an impact, bill? the fact that they issued a statement saying their investors like public pensions like teachers are having second thoughts about investing in gun companies, isn't that, in fact, going to have an impact? >> i hope so. >> jennifer: we hope so, too. >> i hope it will have an impact on a whole lot of businesses and they'll rethink their policies. but that's only a small piece of this. >> jennifer: all right. well i'm so grateful to you for calling in. a lot of people say you know, if
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you hit them in the wallet, change will fall out. that's, in fact, what seems to be happening. california state treasurer bill lockyer, thanks so much for joining us. and now, i want to take a closer look at cerberus, at the private equity firm cerberus because aside from its statement that it would sell freedom group which is the group that does auto -- arms manufacturing we haven't heard much from cerberus. but maybe that's because its founder steven feinberg told his employees in no uncertain terms not to talk to the press. according to portfolio magazine, he actually told a group of his firms' investors back in 2007, he said this "if anyone at cerberus has his picture in the paper, we'll do more than fire that person. we will kill him. the jail sentence will be worth it." all right. that's a little bit rough. but not too surprising coming from a guy who named his company after the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell,
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cerberus. the private equity firm has a number of very high profile republicans on the payroll like former vice president dan quayle and john snow. in 2001, former defense secretary donald rumsfeld was also an investor. and the head of cerberus's freedom group is george kollitides. he has extremely close ties with the nra. he's a trustee of the nra foundation. he's a director of the nra's hunting and wildlife committee. he's its president on committee advancement and its nominating committee. he's on that, too. but perhaps the person who really had steve feinberg's ear the president of cerberus' ear following the sandy hook tragedy was not his big name partners. but maybe it was his father. martin feinberg, who actually lives in newtown connecticut. the elder mr. feinberg today
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called the events devastating. joining me now is daniel gross the global business editor for "newsweek" and the "daily beast." he has been covering the cerberus story. he's coming to us from new york. welcome back inside "the war room." >> good to be here. >> jennifer: so how significant is it that the california teacher's pension is threatening to divest from this fund and what does this portend for other potential pension funds? >> i think it actually is pretty significant. i wouldn't say it is a dirty little secret. it is very little known if this whole private equity industry, we're talking about the blackstone group and bain capital and kkr and cerberus, all of these billionaires who are buying and selling companies, this whole industry only exists because public employee pension funds invest lots of money into them. it got started with the oregon public employee pension fund.
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any viewers out there if you work for a city or state or teacher, you can go to the web site of your retirement fund and see, they will list down there all of the different private equity funds that they're invested in. as you noted the california pension funds but also the new york pension funds and every big state these are some of the biggest pools of capital out there and they mostly buy stocks and bonds and index funds. they take a chunk of the money and say maybe we can do a little better by investing in these private equity firms. this relationship between these pension managers, public employee pension managers, some who are elected officials and the public industry is very intense. one could not exist without the other. >> jennifer: do you know whether, in addition to cerberus are there a lot of other private equity firms that are significantly investing in the manufacturer of firearms? >> there was an article in "the new york times" by andrew who detailed some other firms have
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some holdings in weapons companies and some other ones. and it kind of makes sense you know. it is a generally -- i would say unlove asset class. it is difficult to take a gun company public. a lot of people don't really want to deal with those. it is natural that private equity firms would look to get involved with them. >> jennifer: it can be a little more cloaked under darkness. do you think that cerberus will see a profit from the sale ofú the freedom group? >> they probably won't see it from the sale. a lot of the way the private equity funds operate is they get control of a company. the company is doing okay making some money and they say okay, let's take something out of it. like we might take out a home equity line of credit and write ourselves a check. they'll have the company issue bonds or -- to pay a dividend. they sold $250 million in debt. they took that, bought back some shares for the parent company so they've been able to extract some of the money they put in
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there for their investors from the company without having to sell it. they will probably have to sell it at a fire sale price because let's face it, the brand is somewhat tarnished. it is quite possible they could end up making money from it anyway because they've taken money out. >> jennifer: just as a general matter, how has the market responded? are guns still a good investment? >> well, it is interesting. what we've seen is kind of two conflicting things. on the one hand, people have been rushing out to buy guns in part because they think there's gun control coming, you might as well get your rifle now. sales are ramping up. but the stocks of publicly-held gun companies smith & wesson is one, storm ruger is another. they're traded on the new york stock exchange. index funds people may be invested in may hold shares in those companies. the shares of those stocks started falling rapidly on friday. and they have continued to fall so you have this strange
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dichotomy where typically, you would think if sales of a product are rising rapidly, that would be good news for the stocks but you know, it is sort of connected. they're rising because people think there may be some significant gun control and that of course would be bad news for the conditions going forward. >> jennifer: just as a last question, do you think this is a water shed moment like cerberus said? will we see change if the companies are feeling financial pain? >> i'm not so sure. i've lived through a lot of watershed moments in my life. whether it has to do with a storm -- >> jennifer: work with me, dan. we want to give people some hope here. >> well, i think -- look, if billionaires and prominent well-connected ones say i'm no longer interested in owning these companies that inherently gives them less clout. the people who control cerberus, these are not your garden variety entrepreneurs. as you mention dan quayle is
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the chairman. john snow is the other chairman. fine beg is very wider with -- feinberg is very wired with republican leaders. if they get pushed from marginal owners, that would reduce some of their clout. >> jennifer: dan, thank you so much for coming inside "the war room". dan from the "daily beast" and "newsweek." coming up, leadership and the lack thereof. so far the entertainment and retailing industries have said and done all the right things after the newtown tragedy. it is what they're going to do when the world isn't watching that worries us. >> people with different interests to follow you toward a common goal. it is an opportunity for leadership if there ever was one. john boehner, i'm talking to you! and later always friendly and never terse, calvin is a master of verse. his poems about politics are world renowned. into "the war room," he is bound. so grab a pop and a little snack, after these messages,
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we'll be right back!
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>> jennifer: we've been speaking about how the private equity firm cerberus capital has responded, following the devastating newtown shootings. but what about washington? well today the white house indicated the president is ready to take action. >> while he is actively supportive of, for example senator feinstein's stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban he supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole.
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>> jennifer: yes! speaker nancy pelosi also pledged to renew the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. and to do so soon. >> right away today, this week, we could pass the ban on the assault magazine and the larger sense, let's go down the path of banning the assault weapon. i think there is a better chance to do that now than ever. >> jennifer: those remarks come after california democratic senator dianne feinstein pledged to introduce similar legislation yesterday. there are even some republican senators who might be on board! a spokesman for senator marco rubio told "tampa bay times" that he is, rubio is "looking for public policy changes that would prevent such a horrible event from happening again and is open to measures that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill." but now, some pro gun republicans who have been silent on the issue following the
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killings, they're starting to grumble their dissent. governor rick perry governor bob mcdonnell said they supported allowing guns in schools. mcdonnell said his state should consider arming teachers and principals and other school staff. and he's not alone. today republican legislators in florida, south dakota and tennessee said they plan to introduce similar measures in the next session. and we're going to know more on friday because the nra is going to hold a press conference on friday announcing its plans. the organization said it is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. we'll see what that means. but the nra does not have to set the agenda for us. we do not have to be helpless. we can do something. so as a call to action for congress, on a day when two more small bodies were buried in
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connecticut, please close the gun show loophole. make the background check a safer process. second, ban any new sales transfers, importation possession of assault weapons. third, ban high-capacity clips of more than 10 bullets. there's no peaceful reason to possess those things. our call to action for the president, lead the fight for reasonable gun safety laws. and for mental health access, create that white house commission on boys and men to get comprehensive solutions. our call to action for parents organize your parents and teachers association, your ptas around reasonable gun laws at the state and at the federal level. ptas are incredibly powerful voices. parents and teachers can't just be united in grief. but in action as well. and for parents of -- especially
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boys, make sure that there are active positive male role models and teachers and fathers in their lives and our call to action for parents of all young people known to have some mental illness, get them to treatment or a specialized school for school counselors, for refer -- to refer troubled youth for counseling when they need help. your schools and your towns are counting on you. for you, dear viewer, check your own investments. is your retirement money invested in funds that support your values? or not? and if not direct your investment advisor to get out! and you sign the white house petition if you haven't already to support congressional action. go to petitions.whitehouse.gov and support candidates that will push reasonable gun safety measures. today, michigan governor snyder
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responded to the voices, our voices. he vetoed a bill to allow concealed weapons in schools. victory, a small victory but a victory. contact your representatives. you hired them. you are their employer. you get to tell them what to do. or you can fire them, they can get a new job. talk is cheap. and we can each actually do something. and it will make a difference. to paraphrase the great margaret mead, a small group of good people can change the world. it is the only thing that ever has.
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>> jennifer: so we've talked about the leadership needed to stem gun violence in this country, we need leaders in the gun industry to change their
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ways. we need lawmakers to lead on passing gun safety laws. we also need the entertainment industry to lead by helping to change this violent streak in our popular culture. you know in hollywood there's always talk about toning it down. but here's why we don't see any action. it's because violent films are just too profitable. so far this year, the three highest grossing films are "marvels the avengers" with $623 million. "the dark knight rises with $448 million and "the hunger games," $408 million. i'm not a film critic but i am a total movie fiend and i saw all of those. i confess that i loved every moment of them. but they were fantasy movies. i saw a movie this weekend that was in a totally different category. it was grotesquely real. it was called "killing them
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softly." it is, in my opinion, an awful violence worshipping piece of self-indulgence starring brad pitt. why are these supposedly progressive actors agreeing to star in this stuff? of course you know the answer. money talks right? so now the entertainment industry's pretending to listen to our collective grief and outrage over the slaughter of 20 first graders the discovery channel announced it is not going to review the series "american gun." fox chose not to air a new episode of "american dad" reportedly because it featured children being punished. according to the hollywood reporter, the producers of tom cruise's new movie "jack reacher," they are re-editing some promotional material to leave out gun violence although i don't think they're re-editing the movie. the hollywood red carpet that was scheduled for tonight for quentin tarantino's violent new
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film django unchained has been changed. all of these are good gestures. i doubt they're going to last very long. i don't want to be a pessimist but i do want to hear from somebody who has a thought about this. joining us to tell us how we can make those who profit from violence, change is esquire contributing editor charlie pierce. his writings can be found on esquire's politics blog. he's joining us from boston. charlie, welcome back inside "the war room." >> hi, governor, how are you? >> jennifer: i'm well, thank you. in a tough week. let's talk about the violence and hollywood. and media. violence is obviously something that's embedded from hollywood to video games. is there any way, i know you've been writing about this to get the industry leaders to change the culture for good? >> well, i haven't been technically writing that much
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about hollywood and video games. what i've been mostly writing is about -- if you really want to change the culture of the gun go after the profiteers. don't go after the salesmen. go after the guys who make the money on the guns. make manufacturing weapons as much of a -- an an ath ma to society as producing to be -- tobacco has become. >> jennifer: how do we do that? >> first thing we do is we stop worrying about the nra and wayne la pierre. you could shoot him to the moon and there would be 150 people lining up to take his place. you could do away with nra and another organization would spring up in its place. the nra is dedicated, however much it may want us to believe it is to the rights of its millions of members. it is dedicated to maintaining the armaments industry. you could go after the people who produce the weapons and make
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the profit in murder socially unacceptable. you can do that. people said you couldn't do it with tobacco. people did it with tobacco. >> jennifer: let's sort of veer the conversation toward this culture. i want to get back to the nra in a second. if you go after the profits what could be the -- what could be done to remove the profits from hollywood? people are going to continue to go see movies, right? >> yeah. but i think the whole popular culture thing is the reddest herring we have. there are a number of epidemiology studies that show the correlation is at best tenuous and i think i've heard a lot of -- this is not you but i heard a lot of people talking about hollywood because they didn't want to talk about guns and they didn't want to talk about the violence inherent in our politics and the violence that we visit on other countries overseas and frankly this weird fetish we have about firearms.
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>> jennifer: well, in a recent article, i mean you said that we need to "take the fight to the huge media conglomerates that profit from dehumanizing media spectaculars." what did you mean by that? >> well, what i meant was if you believe that's the cause don't go after brad pitt. go after the guy who owns gulf and western. go after -- the people who own nbc and the people who own msnbc i might add or the people who own 20th century fox or the people who own fox news. basically, while i -- as i said, i think the link between popular culture and what we see in live action in real time and on the news is tenuous don't waste your time going after the minor figures. if you really think it's a problem, go after the people who are running things. >> jennifer: of course, earlier today, we had a link to the teacher pension funds investing in the gun armaments
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industry. if they pull out cerberus sells so obviously the money link is so important. let me veer a little bit to talk about politics because today "national journal" columnist charlie pierce explored why the makeup of congress might not lead to gun safety legislation because he wrote "maybe the public outcry is so great that congress will move on gun control, but considering the makeup of the house and senate, the odds look tough. whatever happens may more likely originate from the other end of pennsylvania avenue." do you think that's right? >> i think he's certainly right about the house. i do not think you're going to see anything -- first of all, i don't think you're going to see anything worth while come out of the house as long as the republicans are running it. that's neither here nor there. you'll see a push in the senate. i think the president has turned up the rhetoric a little bit today. with carney saying he would back senator feinstein's call for a new assault weapons ban.
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i think by in large charlie cook is right. whatever comes of this is not going to come from the house of representatives. >> jennifer: they'll have to vote on it though. i do think that the money side of what supports their motivation, whether it's nra donations or others, that's an important area to target, too. charlie, i think it is an important discussion to have what really is effective. it is that money talks and go after the wallets and as we said earlier, change will fall out. charlie pierce, political writer with "esquire" magazine. thank you for joining us. up next, john boehner is going to lead someone. will it be republicans will, it be tea party? will it be all americans? the latest on the fiscal cliff right after this.
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>> jennifer: president obama
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is trying to lead us away from the fiscal cliff but he's not getting many republican followers. the white house's latest offer keeps the bush tax cuts intact for those making less than $400,000. that's twice the income level that president obama calls for during his re-election campaign. it also limits increases for social security benefits. the cpi the inflation the consumer price index inflationary automatic adjustments upward. house speaker john boehner says it's a no-go and he's trying to take matters into his own hands. ow our plan b would protect american taxpayers who make a million dollars or less. and have all of their current rates extended. >> jennifer: i'm thinking that it is probably because boehner wants to say that he can -- he wants to protect millionaires and treat millionaires just like the rest. anyway the bottom line is that we're here with donnie fowler,
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he's joining us now to break down the politics of this. donnie fowler is the ceo of his firm dog patch strategies which is a consulting firm. donnie welcome back inside "the war room." >> glad to be here. >> jennifer: let's talk about the fiscal cliff. actually, i'm pretty hopeful. it looks like they really are -- like your classic operas continue to pass. they're getting narrowing and narrower. don't you think? >> eventually they're going to touch. >> jennifer: before or after christmas? >> i think it will be before new year's day. let's give them some extra time. >> jennifer: the deal will be cast. there will not be a vote probably beforehand, do you think? >> there's private negotiations and public pontifications going on. obama and speaker boehner are clearly having conversations that they're not telling us publicly about. reid and pelosi and speaker boehner and mitch mcconnell they're all going out there and publicly having parades of indignation and ideology but it
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sounds like they're slowly, quietly working toward this. >> jennifer: they have going to have to vote on something though. because the tax rates will automatically increase. whether they actually push something all the way through the current congress. that's going to be a question. >> speaker pelosi let's cut tax cuts for the middle class. >> jennifer: i'm not sure that's going to happen. but i'm curious. paul krugman had an interesting column in "the new york times" today. he's, of course, the conscience of the far left, the liberal left. in his column, he says that president obama may take a political hit for agreeing to the social security indexing changes that he agreed to. he writes there's no good policy reason to be doing this because the savings won't have any significant impact on the underlying budget issues. also the symbolism of a democratic president cutting social security is pretty awful. what do you think? >> let's talk about math.
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most 2/3 of the money that the federal government spends is either medicare, social security or defense. and so if we're going to get to a balanced budget, almost everybody thinks we need to. maybe not paul krugman. we have to tackle some of the issues. it doesn't matter at this point whether we'll cut defense spending which makes republicans angry. cut taxes which makes republicans angry or try to slow down the charge of medicare and social security. >> jennifer: social security does not affect the budget in that way. but it is a symbolic thing. that's what he's getting at. i think the symbolism for the republicans allows for them to actually vote for -- to allow -- >> to raise taxes. >> jennifer: the tax increase to go forward on those -- >> what do you do? trading one symbol for another symbol? if they're responsible leaders like you were as governor, they're going to do the math right and do the policy right and let the symbolism work itself out. >> jennifer: i would think so,
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too. let me quickly ask you you're from south carolina. nikki haley appointed tim scott. >> indian governor appointing a black republican. >> jennifer: what do you think that means? >> there is progress in this country. we have a black president now. we have had two african-american secretaries of state. two women as secretaries of state. we now have two indian governors in the deep south and republicans. so this is progress along inclusion lines along people having equal opportunity. it doesn't mean we have to agree with their conservative right wing ideology. let's debate less about what the color of their skin is and the fact that they're all right wing tea party nut jobs. >> jennifer: the funny thing is that this is coming from the tea party wing of the republican party. nikki haley, tim scott marco rubio, ted cruz, they're all people of color. >> let's give them credit where credit is due. it doesn't deny the ideology. here's something that's a little controversial.
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a lot of minorities say hey republican parties, the line is shorter for me. it is a lot of african-americans. if i'm a republican, i have a shorter path maybe to become a governor. or a u.s. senator. maybe it is just ambition and not anything else. >> jennifer: all right. donnie fowler, thank you my friend. appreciate you coming in. up next, just because someone is a leader doesn't mean that they exhibit leadership. i'm going to give you my thoughts on that difference right after this.
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>> jennifer: the now to my point, in june of 1944, around 150,000 brave men were asked to storm the beaches of normandy. at risk to themselves, they accepted the challenge on behalf of their nation and the world. they were heroes. they were leaders. imagine if we had leaders today
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with as much courage as each of those soldiers had in just one of their fingers. this gun debate and the fiscal cliff and frankly all important and difficult issues demand leaders who are willing to be personally uncomfortable. what are willing to lean into an oncoming storm rather than be blown along with it. the men at normandy risked their lives for what was right. our politicians could at least risk their campaign donations. it is easy to avoid tough decisions. it is easy to side step challenges to shirk your responsibilities. so easy if you're an nra legislator just avoid going on the sunday shows and hope the holidays make everybody forget about it. if you're a pledge-signing republican, hope that enough of your colleagues vote for compromise. if you're a no way never change any bit of entitlements
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democrat hope that enough republicans take the bullet for you. the definition of leadership though that i like best is from leadership expert jim kouzes. name any great leader, performer, scientist athlete activist citizen chances are that the crucible of that person's crowning achievement was some distressing crisis, some wrenching change, tragic misfortune or risky venture. only challenge produces the opportunity for greatness. and the scariest of times leaders don't flow with public opinion. they shape it. witness president johnson when he signed the civil rights act or lincoln when he twisted arms to get the 13th amendment passed to abolish slavery. fdr when he got unprecedented economic measures in the wake of the depression. martin luther king standing up for voting rights. every great leader was willing
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to be the magnet for a tax to -- for attacks to suffer in order to change us for the better. so you members of congress, think about your legacy. think about what you want your grandkids and their grandkids to know about you. think about the men who stormed a beach long ago. and think about the faces of those little children buried today. this gun crisis calls for leadership. especially from those of you who want to close your eyes and lay low. i would like to commend those for whom this is a tough call like governor snyder, like senators manchin and reed and warner and rubio and casey and johnson, donnelly, heinrich and susan collins. only challenge produces the opportunity for greatness. you leaders out there we're going to follow you wherever you
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[ piano plays ] troy polamalu's going deeper. ♪ ♪ and so is head & shoulders deep clean. [ male announcer ] with 7 benefits it goes deep to remove grease, gunk and flakes. deep. like me. [ male announcer ] head & shoulders deep clean for men. ♪ ♪ >> jennifer: we're going to lighten things up a bit here in "the war room." we are always tracking the billionaires' agenda to reshape the future with laws of their liking. it is actually one of the topics the "new yorker" magazine's poet calvin trillen tackles in his new book "dogfight," the 2012 president campaign inverse and he dropped by "the war room" last week and i started our conversation by asking him about those billionaires. >> happily, they weren't that effective since they seem to lose. >> jennifer: at least in 2012. >> at least in 2012. that's true.
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there's some other poems about that in there. sheldon adelson, there is a poem about him, too. >> jennifer: wait. you have a poem about sheldon adelson but i think you can sing it. >> you can sing it. [ laughter ] >> jennifer: tell us about what inspired this "dogfight the 2012 presidential campaign." great for a stocking stuffer for christmas. but it is also very thoughtful. the campaign inspired you obviously. >> i did run in 2008 called deciding the next decider and i had a couple of candidates and poems left over from there. i did one on mitt romney in 2008 which was yes mitt, so slick of speech and slick of garb, he reminds us all of ken of ken and barbie. so quick to shed his moderate regalia, he may like ken be looking genitalia. >> jennifer: ooh! [ laughter ] >> so, i was already sort of --
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and people ask me that in 2008, sort of the way they would ask somebody who would -- made a -- done the palace of versailles in beer cans or something. why did you do this? what possessed you? they usually say i had these beer cans around. >> jennifer: you were inspired obviously by the substance of the candidates or lack thereof. >> or the lack thereof. it was an interesting -- i was first worried this time i only had one primary because in 2008, both parties had primaries. but then the people who ran were so colorful. >> jennifer: you had lots of good material. >> i had rick perry who has this great hair and perry rhymes with beneath the hair, the space is airy. >> jennifer: which is a beautiful metaphor for him. you wrote -- you wrote a lot about romney which provides some great material.
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i would love for you, if you wouldn't mind tonight i pulled out one of my favorites, i really enjoyed playing with this afternoon. but romney says that he's not concerned about the poor. if you wouldn't mind sharing us with your dulls tones. >> his profiles divine, his shoes have a shine they're almost as shiny as his hair. voters ignored the seeking mitt's core has failed because nothing is there. so mitt's way ahead the pundits have said that newt might be also kaput. but mitt still might lose if he puts those shoes much more in his mouth with his foot. [ laughter ] >> jennifer: so perfect! which one is your favorite? do you have a favorite? >> i like those mitt things. there's one where he went to michigan and -- >> jennifer: wait, wait, wait! remember that state? come now, i have that one. >> i had some prose -- there's a piece of prose there called
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calista gingrich, aware that her husband has cheated on and left two weis who were seriously ill desperately tries to make light of a bad cough. >> jennifer: oh! see, i love this sharp zinger -- so this is your stock and trade. i have to read the michigan one because of course, former governor of michigan. love the title. i thought that i would never see a pole who liked the height of trees. i mind treeses that please. no trees as such a perfect height as these. for me, i cannot ever an the ease for trees that grow no higher than one's knees. or too tall trees that splinter in a freeze. wisconsin sure, has bragging rights on cheese and california's rich in can't niece and colorado is where to take your skis. connecticut, of course, has lyme disease. none of these am i prepared to sneeze but here we have the perfect height of trees.
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i know that i will never see a sight as lovely as the tree whose height is right. so beautiful! >> maybe they should adapt that as the state song. >> jennifer: the state song instead of michigan, my michigan. >> right. >> jennifer: romney though, provides with you a huge amount of opportunity as a satirist, that's true. as a poet, romney doesn't seem to rhyme with a whole lot. >> fortunately, his full name is willard mitt romney. fortunately his parents decided to call him mitt because willard would have given me a lot of problems. >> jennifer: there's nothing that rhymes with willard. >> other people in the race, not all of them had good names. obama has a name that rhymes oddly enough except i used up all of the names with osama bin laden. all of the rhymes. >> jennifer: there's nothing else.
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